- Chris O'Rourke
Dublin Fringe Festival 2022: Hive City Legacy
Hive City Legacy at Dublin Fringe Festival 2022. Image by Simon Fitzpatrick
No Irish. No blacks. No dogs. To which should be added No women. But why state the obvious? Women have always struggled to be recognised. Meaning that for a black, Irish woman with a dog, well, best of luck to you. You might well need it. In Hive City Legacy: Dublin Chapter, Hot Brown Honey set about challenging cultural expectations, especially about Femmes of Colour. Being, at their best, the living legacies of Zora Neale Hurston, Nina Simone, Maya Angelou, and any other black woman who kicked down doors without asking permission. Delivering protest as an act of carnival and celebration.
Yet Hive City Legacy is something of a contradiction. Like a bomb going off it explodes rather than begins. And like a bomb, it silences every other sound but itself. Theatrically, it resembles a hi-energy drag brunch, its eight strong crew often looking like they're lip syncing, or singing along to a soundtrack. Evocative of a drunken session at Electric Picnic, often with the choreography to match. Yet key moments, like a dance sequence giving two fingers to sexual objectification, see directness working at its visceral best. Yet other times direct simplicity doesn't deliver. Take the shifting set, looking as if designed by Miss Smith's First Class students. Evoking the homemade simplicity of black South African theatre during Apartheid, yet showing way less imagination. Similarly the loosely cohering story. The rawness of rage offset by a twee tale about a young, black Everygirl, wearing her heart for all to see. Journeying to finally plant her heart in her new home, on her way to a Disney, feel-good, singalong-a happy ever after.
If its feminist fuck-off is irresistible, Hive City Legacy's broader concerns, like Irishness, often resemble a demand to be understood without caring to understand. Proposals for a reshaped Ireland, expressed in a satirical quiz show, likely to leave as many agreeing as feeling misrepresented. Showing heart and soul, Hive City Legacy sings to its fun loving choir, often simplifying issues in a sanitising blast of self-righteous fury. As an act of black and tanned feminist defiance, it's invaluable. As a theatrical experience, it's energetically enjoyable. As broader social commentary, it's sometimes questionable. But always it's one hell of a political party.
Hive City Legacy, presented by Dublin Fringe Festival, Hot Brown Honey and Quiet Riot, runs as part of Dublin Fringe Festival 2022 at Project Arts Centre until September 17.
For more information, visit Dublin Fringe Festival 2022.